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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On behalf of people whose property was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, a class of plaintiffs sued four insurance companies in Louisiana state court. Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. removed the action to federal district court under �1441(e)(1)(B) of the Multiparty, Multiforum Trail Jurisdiction Act (MMTJA). That section allows class-action cases that arise from the same action that could not otherwise be removed to federal court to be removed to federal district court. Farm Bureau and the other defendants said they were also subject to another suit brought as a class action under 28 U.S.C. �1369. The district court then granted the plaintiffs’ petition to remand the case back to state court, finding that the mandatory abstention provisions of �1369(b) did not allow the case to be heard in federal court. Farm Bureau appealed. HOLDING:Vacated and denied. The court first addresses whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case. The court finds that it does not have appellate jurisdiction under �1453(c)(1) of the Class Action Fairness Act. The plain language of that provision, the court explains, indicates that its terms apply to removal of cases under CAFA, not to removal under the MMTJA, as the insurers have argued. Nonetheless, the court also finds that it has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. �1291, which applies to a “narrow class of collateral orders” that do not meet the definition of “finality,” but which are nevertheless appealable under �1291. A remand order based on abstention principles would fall into that category, the court rules. The court finds that the district court’s first order for remand was clearly based on abstention under �1369. As an abstention provision, the court notes that �1369 assumes that subject matter exists. It applies when a “substantial majority” of the plaintiffs and the “primary defendants” are citizens of the same state and the laws of that state primarily govern the claims at issue. The section does not deprive federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction, it merely limits the exercise of jurisdiction based on policy considerations. “Treating �1369(b) as an abstention provision thus comports with not only the plain language of the statute but also with the underlying rationale for abstention provisions generally.” Having concluded it has jurisdiction over the case under �1291, the court then reviews whether the district court erred by applying �1369(b) to a case removed under �1441(e)(1)(B) of the MMTJA. The court rules that the trial court misapplied abstention to the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction in this case. “[I]t is proper for a district court to abstain from hearing a case brought as an original matter under �1369(a), when the exceptions listed in �1369(b) apply. In contrast, �1441(e)(1)(B) permits removal in those situations where original federal subject matter jurisdiction does not exist. In so allowing, �1441(e)(1)(B) establishes supplemental jurisdiction over [this] action, piggy-backing jurisdiction on the district court’s original jurisdiction under �1369(a) over the [other] action. When the requirements of �1441(e)(1)(B) are met, defendants need not establish the existence of independent subject matter jurisdiction under any other provision, including under �1369(a), because supplemental jurisdiction has been established. Consequently, �1369(b) is not an independent bar to the exercise of jurisdiction over a case removed pursuant to �1441(e)(1)(B), as it applies only to the exercise of original jurisdiction under �1369(a).” OPINION:Garza, J.; Smith, Garza and Prado, JJ.

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